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25 Questions to Determine Your Service/Help Desk Maturity Level

Service Desk/Help Desk  Assessment

A help desk must be the proper catalyst for a client's business goals by providing the assistance, analytics, or software necessary for growth. Whether new or well-established, an underrated obstacle in achieving successful business results is the maturity level of your help desk. Thankfully, Giva has crafted a 25 question assessment spreadsheet designed to help gauge the functionality of your help desk.

It is important for a service desk to be a productive business partner. The assessment is divided into five categories: processes and best practices, organizational integration, technology optimization, staff development, and information management. Analysis questions cover everything from incident reports and stakeholders needs to use of IT and employee advancement.

Here is how it works. You rate your organization on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) for each question, equaling a total of 125 points maximum. You are then provided a Maturity Index scale, ranging from "actualized" to "non-existent," with descriptive sections corresponding to your possible scores. These helpful evaluations provide guidance on improving the functionality and value of your service desk.

Giva strives to be a leading example in productivity and customer satisfaction. Our 25 Question Service Desk Assessment is fashioned by professionals with all of the best techniques in mind.  It is quick, painless and a highly valuable tool towards the optimization of your help desk.

Mobile Devices: Biggest 2015 Trend

Mobile Devices Biggest 2015 Trend

This year, Paul M. Dooley of Optimal Connections reported six trends for customer service and support, particularly that more people than ever are accessing the Internet from a mobile device.

In 2011, the International Data Corporation predicted that mobile internet use would surpass desktop internet use by 2015. However, mobile grew quicker than anticipated, surpassing desktop use for the first time ever in January 2014, and now Americans spend an average of 34 hours a month on their mobile devices. Pew Research reports that nearly two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone, and 46% of smart phone owners say they could not live without one.

Mobile devices are clearly becoming a mainstay in the American lifestyle, so it is worth the time and effort to integrate mobile support in all aspects of business. This integration could be as simple as being active on social media or as complex as creating a new app. However, the Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report notes that 6 in 10 contact centers do not have the capacity for social media, when the industry best-practices indicate that having multiple methods of communication, rather than just phone support, is important to improving the customer service experience.

Equally important is the look and functionality of the mobile version of a business' website. A mobile customer could be deterred by a difficult-to-use website, or choose a competitor whose website is more mobile-friendly. When creating apps for a business, it is also important to make sure the app is available and fully functional on all major smartphone operating systems.

The future of smartphones and other mobile devices is constantly changing, but one thing is very clear: support for mobile devices will be key in making any business more accessible to all customers.

Using Metrics to Improve First Call Resolution

First Call Resolution Metrics

Resolution timeliness is a major factor in customer satisfaction and First Call Resolution (FCR) is an important metric in order to gauge the success of a help desk/call center in resolving routine requests.

The gathering and use of metrics to manage system performance is a common IT practice. A Service Desk manager may employ a number of proven techniques to realize meaningful improvement in First Call Resolution. Each of these techniques is based on standard Continuous Quality Improvement methodology.

The Value of FCR

As FCR improves, the overall cost of providing support decreases. Industry analysts estimate the mean cost to resolve a ticket on level one to be about $32. The mean cost to resolve an escalated ticket is about $60. In an environment averaging 4,000 calls per month, improving FCR from 50% to 75% reduces the number of tickets requiring escalation by 1,000 per month. The total cost to support those tickets is commensurately reduced yielding an estimated savings of $28,000 per month, based on the averages.

The Use of Metrics

Using metrics to establish and improve on baseline performance is one key method to deriving optimal performance from your IT teams. Great statistics alone do not achieve results. Long-term quality improvement and cost savings result from nurturing the operational and organizational maturity of those teams and the people on them.

For a much greater in-depth study of proven techniques to drive first call resolution at the service desk and add value to your organization, read Giva's Whitepaper Service Desk Optimization: 40 to 80 in No Time Flat.

Does Your Business Need A Service Level Agreement?

Sample Service Level Agreement

Organizations prepare service level agreements (SLA) detailing the services provided to their customers. These agreements describe how the work of the service organization is prioritized along with agreed upon response and resolve times.

For example, In order to provide optimal first level support service to all departments, all problem and repair calls might be received by a central Help Desk. This first level provides a platform where:

  • All problems will be recorded
  • Problems will be resolved or assigned to the appropriate specialist
  • Problems will be monitored etc.

An SLA describes the factors influencing first level problem determinations, such as:

  • Number of customers affected
  • Effect on business mission
  • Context of problem etc.

Tables used to define severity levels describe how calls are prioritized and the associated response and resolve commitments.

Single point of contact responses can be determined using the following criteria:

  • Orders for new equipment provided by manager
  • Data entry service
  • System sign on request etc.

Does your business need a service level agreement? To ensure your SLA is consistent with best practices and contains all relevant topics and details, Giva provides much more in-depth coverage of this subject, using a help desk/customer service agreement as an example, in our whitepaper Sample IT Help Desk Service Level Agreement (SLA), which you can view online or download for free.

The Giva Challenge: Giva Customers are Talking! Miles & Stockbridge

Miles & Stockbridge

Saving time, in the long run, saves money. The new Apple watch discussed at TechCrunch is in the business of saving people time by making it easier to see important information throughout their workday without having to pull out their smart phone. This equates to precious time saved. According to Matthew Panzanaro at TechCrunch, "There are very few products that allow you to hand someone cash and be given back TIME."

Working around-the-clock to meet a client's needs is what a great attorney does. If that clock is slowed down in any way it costs extra money. Miles & Stockbridge P.C. has enjoyed a rich history of well-planned growth, enduring client relationships and loyal community leadership for over 80 years. They support approximately 500 employees in 8 offices across the east coast of the USA. "Since we are providing IT technical support to attorneys that work around-the-clock, we needed a solution that could be accessible anywhere and anytime by our staff. Our attorneys' time is our 'stock in trade', so we must keep the firm up and running and highly productive on a large number of applications and various hardware platforms in order to generate revenue." (Ken Adams, Chief Information Officer) They were spending a lot of time and money on managing and maintaining servers and software to host their previous application.

After researching their options, they found the solution to their time problem. "Giva's application suite is fast and responsive, and we have had 100% uptime. Any cloud application we use must perform this way, especially since we are working with attorneys that are always under tight deadlines and want to minimize the amount of time they are on the phone with us." Not only have they saved attorneys valuable time they have also experienced;

  • 70% cost savings when considering the total cost of ownership (TCO) over a 3 year period
  • 70% decrease in number of tickets that remain open from day-to-day
  • 60% increase in customer satisfaction of attorneys and staff
  • 100% application uptime and high application responsiveness

Miles & Stockbridge have taken the time to save their clients valuable time. According to Ken Adams, "With Giva, when I view any report, it always has real-time information. Furthermore, any of my staff can create, save and share reports, which allow us to retrieve pertinent real-time information at any moment without having to set up our own versions of a report. This dynamic nature of Giva's reporting engine is a tremendous advantage over all the others we evaluated."

Find more information at Miles & Stockbridge Case Study.

What is your challenge? Let Giva be your solution!

10 More Tough Questions to Better Qualify Any Software / Cloud Vendor

Questions for Software Vendors

How can you more quickly qualify and evaluate any software or cloud vendor?

In another informative whitepaper, Giva offers even more tough questions to keep your potential software or cloud vendor on their toes and to make sure they know you have done your homework. Customers interested in purchasing any software or cloud service may encounter myriad of problems and obstacles during the purchase process.  This whitepaper provides tough practical questions to ask your vendor candidate to help avoid mistakes that even the most experienced professionals can make. 

Some topics covered include:

  • What happens if we have a disagreement? Mediation/arbitration or litigation?
  • What are the costs of additional modules and licenses purchased in the future?
  • What are license options for part-time usage?
  • Are customer case studies with business results achieved available?
  • Are your customer references compensated in any way?
  • How will our future feature requirements be obtained?
  • Will we have a dedicated Account Manager?
  • Are thirty-day supported production trials available without obligation?
  • How many new releases are provided per year?

For more information and tough questions to assist you in your vendor selection process, please refer to Ten More Tough Questions to Better Qualify Any Software or Cloud Vendor

4 Tips for Optimizing Online Customer Service

Digital Online Customer Service

Micah Solomon, best selling business author and named by the Financial Post "New Guru of Customer Service Excellence," wrote about an important principle of customer service titled the BUBL method in his informative article, "The One Customer Service Training Secret You Need To Know". The simple acronym stands for Begin immediately, Uncode, Break Your Schedule, and Leave Room For More:

Begin Immediately: This means giving immediate attention to the customer. Keep in mind they are here for your service; their needs are your priority.

Uncode: Be receptive to the body language, tone, and verbal cues of your customer to decode their persona and adjust your attitude accordingly.

Break Your Schedule: Throw your to-do list out the window. Customer service entails tending to customer needs as they are needed, so assure your schedule is their schedule.

Leave Room For More: Lastly, leave your interaction open-ended. In other words, make yourself available for future assistance.

These four practices are essential to successful customer service interactions.

But how do you provide helpful customer service when you are not physically present? Excellent online customer service is equally possible; however, business methods must be adapted to digital spaces:

  1. "Beginning immediately" is no longer an issue in an online environment where the desired information should be readily available. A customer service representative or associate may not be present, but providing a Frequently Asked Questions page in your navigation can substitute as a reliable resource for any business-related questions your customer may have. Additionally, a search feature will assist users in navigating your website for any specific questions.

  2. Uncoding a customer's presence online may not be possible , however, knowing what your customers find helpful or unhelpful is critical to the success of your business. To quote Bill Gates, "We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." Encouraging customer input by Including a survey or feedback form is a simple and effective way to gain that feedback. Consider using websites like Survey Monkey.

  3. Navigating a website is a self-serving practice prohibiting you from personally tending to the customer's schedule. Instead, implement an analytics program to view the effectiveness of your website. By tracking metrics, you can gain a comprehensive look at customer interactions and pinpoint what areas of your business need improvement.

  4. With regard to leaving yourself available for further interaction, be sure to provide a customer service phone number and email address in a clearly visible area should a visitor have additional questions or concerns. Regardless of the efficiency of your website's navigability or helpfulness, customers will always genuinely appreciate the option to communicate with a live person.

The online customer brings different challenges to the customer service environment, and successful organizations will find creative ways to closely interact with them, even if it is through "personal" virtual means.

The Giva Challenge: Customers are Talking! Santé Health System

Santé Health System

Bedside doctors of old were sure to have a reputation in the local community. That reputation was determined by qualities that still exist in our current fast-paced world. Today, delivering the highest quality health care is as important now as it has ever been. According to Leonard S. Feldman, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, "Basic things make a difference in patient outcomes and they're not being done to the extent they should be" (5 Ways New Doctors Fail At Bedside Manner). Just as it is for doctors, great customer service should be top priority for businesses. Giva customer Santé Health System understands this and endeavors to make certain that their customers in the medical field are satisfied.

Santé Health System provides IT and technical support across sixteen geographically dispersed healthcare sites. They provide technical support to physicians who in turn need quick answers in order to give great patient service. They were having difficulties that needed to be addressed. “Before Giva, we used FrontRange Solutions HEAT. However, significant IT issues were falling through the cracks over and over again. This is not tolerable in our organization given our goal of delivering the highest quality medical care possible” (Juan Carlo Muro, IT Director). After researching their options, they found the solution that would improve their customer service.

Santé Health System turned to Giva in order to solve the problem. “We were intrigued by Giva's cloud based service right from the first time we began evaluating it. It was very easy to get started, and we worked with a technical specialist for only just a few days in order to fully customize Giva the way we wanted it. Giva is more intuitive, easier and faster to customize, more functional, and has outstanding reports and dashboards.” The numbers show just how much they have improved:

  • They experienced a 50% increase in productivity by using Giva's custom forms that are integrated with service requests to prompt technicians to ask important questions the first time they speak with users.
  • As a result of productivity increases, they also experienced a 60% increase in meeting their internal resolve-time service level agreements (SLAs).
  • The Giva dashboard made managers 80% more productive as compared to when they were using FrontRange HEAT as they can now see exactly what is going on across their 16 sites that they service.
  • Giva increased their technician productivity by over 40% for those that travel between their 16 sites.

"Selecting Giva was an excellent choice for Santé Health System. After a support request is opened, Giva contacts us for more information, if needed, and consistently nudges and reminds us to follow up and provide all the information they need, so that our questions can be resolved in as timely a manner as possible. We never get this kind of focus and deliberate follow-up from other software vendors, and so we are extremely pleased."

Read more at about how Giva helped Santé Health System in their case study.

What is your challenge? Let Giva be your solution!

20 Tough Questions to Better Select, Compare & Evaluate Any Software / Cloud Vendor

Questions for Software Vendors

There is nothing more frustrating than signing on the dotted line and then regretting it. Selecting a software or cloud vendor is a major decision for any company and Giva has designed a whitepaper to assist you in becoming more informed and educated by reducing the complexity of the cloud or software vendor selection process.

This whitepaper provides twenty penetrating questions to ask cloud vendors in order to become a more informed buyer. It provides practical "how to" advice to help avoid mistakes that even the most experienced professionals make, ultimately costing them a lot of time and money. Use these questions early in your selection process to poke and prod at your list of cloud vendors.

Some topics covered include:

  • Using uptime and support service level agreements to manage our relationship
  • How to qualify the reliability and security of a data center; SSAE 16 (formally SAS 70), Trustwave PCI Certification and SysTrust Compliance
  • Access to your data and rights in the cloud
  • Source code escrow rights and responsibilities
  • Termination clauses, contract term commitments, discounts and hidden fees
  • What if my company is dissatisfied?
  • What if my company finds better technology?
  • Deployment "out-of-box" vs. time and cost of customization/configuration
  • Preparing and comparing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of all alternatives
  • Most overlooked critical fine print in software maintenance agreements
  • Vendor product roadmaps and commitment
  • What are the costs for post-implementation customization/configuration?
  • What qualifies as routine technical support vs. professional services fees?

To view the whitepaper in its entirety, please see Twenty Tough Questions to Better Select, Compare & Evaluate Any Software or Cloud Vendors.

Saving You Money: Selecting The Right Help Desk Staffing Model, Part Two

Help Desk Staffing Models

To understand the financial impact of the various Help Desk staffing models discussed in Part One, the important question to answer is, "How many Help Desk staff are required for your call volume?"

The Meta Group and the Help Desk Institute have calculated the cost per call resolution at the various levels of support. These studies show the real financial impact of the different models. In all cases, the Generalist Model is about 48% more cost effective.

The following are methods of determining how many Help Desk staff are required for your volume:

  • Determining Direct Labor Requirements. How calls are submitted determines the biggest impact of labor requirements. The percentage of calls actually being resolved at the Help Desk have a direct impact as well.
  • Determining the Number of Potential Direct Labor Hours Available. It is unrealistic to think that anyone who works a 40-hour week will be available for all 2,080 theoretical hours in the year. When you factor in and deduct hours for company holidays, vacations, sick time, training, etc., the net number will determine the potential direct labor hours available.
  • Utilization Rate. This rate reflects the fact that inbound calls arrive randomly. Rarely does a new call arrive at the exact moment an open call is concluded. The level of service required of analysts determines an "appropriate" utilization rate.
  • Sample Formulas. Calculations to determine:
    1. Total numbers of hours required
    2. Number of potential direct hours available
    3. Actual number of direct labor hours available
    4. Gross staffing level

For these formulas and much more in-depth information, please refer to Giva's Whitepaper on Help Desk Staffing Models.


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